Before I tell you this story, I need your help. Let me see, who has blue eyes? Good, I want you to stand in a group here. Who has brown eyes? You can stand there. Who has green eyes? You can stand here. Now I want you to think about something. If I said all the children with green eyes and only green eyes could have some lollies what would you say? (You can give them one if you like). Now if I said I am going to give all the children with brown eyes and only brown eyes two lollies what would you say? And guess what, the children with blue eyes are the ones who have to go outside and pick up a whole bag of litter what would you say?
This is a bit like the story I am going to tell you. In some parts of India children have to work. They don’t go to school, though a few go to special schools when the work is done. Some of them work as servants helping in houses. Others clean up all the dirt from people’s houses. Many of them work in the brick industry – helping to make hundreds of bricks by hand. These jobs are done by the poorest people. Some people consider them unclean and will not go near them. In India there is an old caste system that told people what they can and can’t do. It is a bit like me saying whoever has blue eyes has to clean up. You will always have blue eyes so cleaning up is the only job you can do. But we are helping to change that so Dalit children can have a better chance. I want you to meet Munipandi…
I am Munipandi. I am 14 years old and live in Muniyandipuram village in South India. I have two sisters and one brother but no father. My mother supports the family.
The SAND Trust invited me to go to theatre school for children. It helped me a lot. I am a Dalit boy. Being in the theatre school has taught me to see many things in my village. In India there is a caste system. In our village the Dalits are very poor and many people look down us but I am proud to be a Dalit.
I am in the eighth standard at school. It’s very hard for us to buy exercise books even though the textbook is supplied by the government.
I love to sing songs. I am not very interested in singing cinema songs. I very much like to sing Dr Ambedkar songs. Everyone in my class asks me to sing a song. I always sing social songs about what it means to be a Dalit. I learned many social songs at the theatre school from SAND.
In my village I noticed that at night all the street lights in the areas where the
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dominant caste Hindus live are always in good condition. But in our area we do not have even a single light. So during the night our area is always dark. People especially women and children area are always afraid.
So the theatre group made a plan. We did a street theatre called Enga Engal Pangu? Or Where is my Share? We each took the roles of different people in the village. At the end we used the fishbowl technique – that way other children could join in and ask more questions. More of us are looking around the village and saying where is my share?
Questions 1. What does Munipandi like to do?
2. Dr Ambedkar songs are songs that talk about a better life for Dalits. How is Munipandi working for a better life?
3. Why do you think there were no street lights where Munipandi lived?
4. Why do you think Munipandi and the theatre group made up a play called Where is our Share?
Hi God We pray for Munipandi and his family. We pray for the theatre school. Help them make up good plays so they the Dalit children in their village have time to learn and play.